Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Quilted Cats and Bats

Hi creative friends! It has been quite busy in the Blue Ribbon Designs studio and I have been focusing on a wide variety of projects - I have been stitching, sewing, quilting, and even doing some machine embroidery...that's right, I'm working on new designs, magazine pieces, commissioned needlework finishing, Etsy shop items (the shop is freshly stocked), and several large quilting projects...needles are in motion here!

Recently, AccuQuilt contacted me about my "Quilted Cats and Bats"  Halloween wall hanging I designed and made several years ago, as I had uploaded a photo of it to their Quilter's Spotlight (if you haven't visited the Quilter's Spotlight before, take a look - you are sure to be inspired - it's an AccuQuilt community where users share their quilted projects - you can see the AccuQuilt projects I have uploaded by clicking here). They liked my Halloween design, and not only did they want to do a Quilter's Spotlight interview with me about it for their blog, they wanted me to write the pattern for them, as well (how cool is that?!). The Quilter's Spotlight interview was posted on the AccuQuilt blog today, and to be honest, I always find it awkward to read articles/interviews that are written about me - it's a bit strange reading how someone else hears or interprets my answers and what they choose is important to share - writers have a tough (but I'm sure very interesting) job. This was a fun interview and you may learn a little something new about me...

Click here to visit the AccuQuilt blog and read my Quilter's Spotlight interview

To coincide with the Quilter's Spotlight blog post, my "Quilted Cats and Bats" pattern is free for a limited time...AND during the month of October, appliqué dies, including the ones I used in this project are on SALE!

For those of you visiting my blog for the first time - thanks for stopping by, I hope you will relax and take a look around! I love to create using AccuQuilt products...and here is a small selection of my recent projects - you can click on the the caption below each image for additional details...

Flowering Snowball With A Twist

Scrap Basket Bouquet

Artful Appliqué

Pillow Pizzazz

Triangular Tuffets

Sewing Stars

Tumbling Table Topper

Cross My Heart

Thanks for stopping by...I hope you found something that inspired you! I'll be back to share more soon, but until then, make a little time to be creative!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"By The Numbers"

I have something extremely fun to share with you today. Many of you know Elegant Stitch releases an exclusive, limited edition needlework kit benefiting breast cancer awareness, prevention, and education each year (and some of you may remember the "With All Your Heart" project I gifted to Lois for one of her special kits back in 2007). This year the exclusive kit is quite spectacular and I was lucky enough to collaborate with Lois on this modern (and in her words "kicky and edgy") project. It is appropriately called "By The Numbers" and is a bright and cheerful all-inclusive kit...that's right - the kit includes everything for the complete set shown in the photos. Last fall, Lois showed me the two bolts of fabric she purchased for her 2014 limited edition kit and told me about the fabric tray she wanted to center the project around...she gave me a cut of the linen, a couple snippets of the fabrics, and we pulled a pile of Weeks Dye Works floss to match...I took them home and designed the ruler fob, needlebook, and ditty bag - I stitched and partially assembled them - then sent the pieces and designs back to California, where Lois finished the easel needlebook and embellished the ruler fob and ditty bag. It was quite fun to watch this project grow and evolve into what you are seeing! This gorgeous limited kit includes the fabric tray, the adorable little spool pincushion, the ruler AND embellished laying tool - plus all the materials, charting, and finishing instructions for the needlebook, ditty bag, and ruler sleeve and fob - it is truly an all-inclusive kit - an amazing bargain at $45 + shipping...and, of course, all proceeds go towards breast cancer awareness, education, and prevention. These are very limited and going fast (at the time of this post there are only about 30 kits left), so if you are interested, you will want to get your name on the list right can find all the details here: - Lois is putting the the finishing touches on these unique needlework kits and they will be shipping soon...

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Something Extra Special

Today I received a lovely, heartfelt message from Lisa Y. - she sent me a photo of her "Red Rosies and Pink Posies" framed finish that won her a first place ribbon at the Juniata County Fair in Pennsylvania - isn't it gorgeous?! - I absolutely LOVE it matted and framed. What makes this prize winning piece even more special - she stitched this BRD design while going through chemotherapy last year for breast cancer. Lisa has shared with me that she struggled to stitch when she was going through chemo, but her framed finish reminds her where she has been and gives her strength (GREAT NEWS - she is now doing good). I was so very touched that Lisa shared some of her story and a photo of her blue ribbon winning entry with me (and allowed me to share it with you!) - it truly makes my heart smile I hope this post will encourage and inspire you, as it did me! Lisa - you are just one of the MANY reasons I walk - you will be in my heart as I make the the 60-mile journey again this fall...

Most of you know I walk in Susan G. Komen 3-Day events and I designed this exclusive "pink" piece as a fundraiser in 2013 with ALL proceeds benefiting the Komen 3-Day. This November, I am walking the 3-days 60-miles in Dallas and I have created another exclusive design for fundraising - I hope you will consider making a donation to help me reach my goal - every little bit helps - and I have quite a bit of work to do to meet my hefty goal this year!

To see my fundraising page and read a little bit about my journey, visit:

To read about my fundraising design for 2014 ("Five Houses of Hope") and find out how you can obtain a copy of this exclusive design, visit:

Five Houses of Hope - 2014 Komen 3-Day Fundraising Design

If you are interested in my exclusive 2013 fundraising design, the same rules apply - follow the instructions for the 2014 design, just put "Red Rosies and Pink Posies" in the subject line of your e-mail. For more information on "Red Rosies and Pink Posies", visit:

Red Rosies and Pink Posies - 2013 Komen 3-Day Fundraising Design

Thanks to everyone who has been following me on my 3-Day journey of training and fundraising - your support, donations, and encouraging messages/comments mean the world to me!

Friday, September 26, 2014

September Samplings

Happy Pumpkin Day!
Cathey - thinking of you and missing you.
I'm not sure who hijacked my month - the last few weeks have just seemed to vanish.  I've been training daily for the Komen 3-Day, I've been creative on a daily basis, I've been working hard...and I've been feeling blessed. My early morning training walks with Schatzi are full of inspiration...and so is the data card on my smartphone...I take way too many photos! The photo to the right was actually taken on the walking trail...someone strategically placed several pumpkins and pots of mums on the path - it was quite fun to find them during one of my journeys. Although autumn is definitely arriving, I have been able to capture some lovely floral shots...and this morning I took some wonderful images when Miss Schatzi and I walked around the lake. I have been spending my days in the studio - designing multiple cross stitch and quilting pieces for magazine publications...I've been doing tons of needlework finishing...I've been working on a plethora of AccuQuilt projects (you can find my Halloween wall hanging quilt pattern on their website)...and I have just finished a sizable pile of new items that will soon be listed in my freshly updated Etsy shop! I also prepared hundreds of peaches for freezing this week, thanks to my in-laws - they have wonderful fruit trees and I am lucky to reap some of the rewards - the frozen peaches will be perfect for my fruit smoothies throughout the coming months. Here is a quick weekly wrap-up in photos:

So, while I haven't blogged much in the last couple weeks, I have been keeping active and enjoying my days! I'll be back soon with some creative ideas/posts for you...there has been A LOT going on in my design studio...

Saturday, September 13, 2014

"A Woodland Wish"

My copies of the Just CrossStitch 2014 Special Christmas Ornament Issue arrived yesterday afternoon, and I am pleased to share my contribution to the magazine with you. My ornament is titled "A Woodland Wish" and can be found on page 75...and this year, I included my recipe (well, really my mom's recipe) for Mommy's Muffins (which I will also share later in this pre-holiday post). My 2014 ornament complements my woodland ornaments from the past several years - and as usual, combines cross stitch over both one and two linen threads. I stitched the model on 40-count Mocha linen from Weeks Dye Works (same as previous ornaments in this series) and used Weeks Dye Works cotton floss. I opted for a flat-finish with two-tone cord as an embellishment....and as a little finishing tip for those of you using the 40-count linen - I used standard hotel room keys padded with cotton batting (or you could use fake or expired credit cards) instead of the padded mounting board that the magazine suggests...they are the perfect size! My ornament doesn't have an individual photo in this year's publication and I have been informed that some of the symbols in the magazine are hard to read (the published chart symbol choices are those of Just CrossStitch and are different than what I submitted), so I hope the clear photo below will give you a good reference.

Now normally, I would spend my evening curled up in my cozy stitching nest, savoring each and every page and admire this special publication...but unfortunately, my packaged arrived with the enveloped destroyed and taped back together and my magazine copies were terribly damaged (a BIG boo hoo!)...but all was not lost, as somehow, my ornament survived whatever mishap happened in transit - for that I am very thankful. promised, I will now share my/my mommy's recipe for a family favorite breakfast treat:

Mommy's Muffins
2 English muffins
1 tomato
Fresh basil (dried, if fresh is not available)
4 slices sharp cheddar cheese
4-6 slices of cooked bacon

Slice each English muffin in half and lightly toast. Place one slice of tomato on each half of the toasted English muffins. Sprinkle each tomato slice with fresh basil (and I like a little fresh ground pepper, too). Place a slice of sharp cheddar cheese on top of each basil/tomato/muffin and put them in the toaster oven or under the oven broiler to melt the cheese until it starts to bubble. Remove from the oven and place several half strips of bacon on each. Makes 4 delicious half muffin servings. Enjoy!

I hope you make a little time to stitch or create this weekend...

Friday, September 12, 2014

Feeling Blessed

It has been a couple weeks of steady work since we returned from our mini vacation - I feel blessed to be keeping busy and I am so grateful for the creative opportunities that have been coming my way! I have been completing multiple quilting projects for customers - a huge pile of needlework finishing for another client - and several AccuQuilt projects are ready to start this weekend. I also have been working on some quilting designs for a major quilt magazine and several cross stitch submissions for another publication. I have been steadily looking for employment outside of Blue Ribbon Designs to supplement my income, but this last month gave me some hope.

Five House of Hope
I have also been getting in tons of training for the Komen 3-Day in Dallas in less than two months. Schatzi and I have been walking 6-7 miles every morning...and then I get in a couple additional walks later in the day. My fit bit is currently showing an average of 22,000 steps per day (over 10 miles) - I feel healthy and ready for November (which will be here quickly). I still need tons of help with my fundraising if I am to reach my please help me spread the word about my exclusive fundraising design "Five Houses of Hope". All proceeds from this very special design benefit the Komen 3-Day - and your donations are tax deductible. You can find all the details by reading my blog post from August 20th...or by clicking on the photo to the right. I also still have the exclusive design from last year available ("Red Rosies and Pink Posies"), should you prefer to receive that design chart instead. I hope you will consider making a donation and help me reach my goal this year...

Here are a few photos from the last week or two...I hope these will make you smile or inspire you...

First of all - we recently entered a photo of Simba and Schatzi in an Instagram PetSmart grooming contest - we absolutely adore our groomer and have been visiting her for almost 10 years. We were hoping to win her some prizes and win some grooming funds for us as well, but alas, we never received a winning message; however, I thought you would enjoy seeing our kids with their bandanas posing on the deck. This was hard work - you should see all the outtakes - it was quite comical getting them to photograph well together!

...and here are several photos I snapped on my training walks this last week...

..and here are some of the fun machine appliqué quilting projects I have been working on for a customer...these are “Garden Patch Cats” by Helene Knott from adorable wall hangings each measure 18" square...

"Catus Romanus"



"Pepper Puss"

....and here is a little peek at some of the needlework finishing I have been completing for a very special customer/friend....

On a final note...the software for my website had a large update recently and I have noticed a few small glitches - if you have difficulty placing an order, please e-mail me and I will get you taken care of promptly...and to make things more convenient, I am currently adding all my website items to my Etsy shop, so you will have another option for your shopping needs...please be patient, it takes quite a bit of time to add all the information....I am adding 20 - 30 items per day. Yes, both my website and my Etsy shop will stock all of my items. Thank you all for your patience and understanding while the new website is in the development stages - it will be running perfectly soon!

I'm off to run errands and take Simba to the groomer...then I will be back working in my studio later today... Wishing you a creative and productive weekend!

Monday, September 1, 2014

"Owls in Moonlight"

Can you believe how quickly the summer months have passed?? - I can't believe it is already September...where does the time go?! Halloween items are popping up everywhere...and stores are already getting out their Christmas holiday displays...personally, I'd be content to keep the summer months here just a little bit longer...but it is time to start working on Halloween and holiday items, if you want to have them completed in time to display this year...

The current issue of Just CrossStitch Magazine (October 2014) features a Halloween Ornament Spooktacular that includes ten ornaments to stitch up and decorate your Halloween tree....and yes, you can find Blue Ribbon Designs in this feature. My Halloween ornament this year is titled "Owls in Moonlight" and is a fun, quick stitch!  You can locate my ornament and all the details on page 55. The entire ornament is worked in cross stitch...and I used Weeks Dye Works linen (Confederate Gray) and Weeks Dye Works cotton floss (a DMC conversion is also provided). There are TONS of fabulous ways to finish your Halloween ornaments - for this particular ornament, I chose a flat-finish....and I used two-tone twisted cord in orange and black for a special touch. This is the autumn issue, so there are a plethora of fall designs, as well...including a Quaker Acorn Etui by Praiseworthy Stitches and Give Thanks by Hands On Designs. You can find this issue of Just CrossStitch magazine at your favorite needlework shop or on newsstands now...

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Take A Little Trip With Me...

A view of the Paris Hotel Eiffel Tower
from the Bellagio Hotel
As some of you may know, I took a short vacation this past week...which is pretty much unheard had been over five years since I took some time away that didn't involve a work trip or walking 60-miles for charity. My husband, close friends, and family pretty much had to *force* me to go - I felt extremely guilty taking time away and I knew we couldn't afford it - but truth be told, it did lighten my load a bit. I wasn't quite sure how to relax, as I have such a set daily schedule and I am pretty much on auto-pilot at home...and although I was up and ready to go each morning before 6:00 AM and I still got in a training walk each day, I do feel like a had a little time to just breathe. My husband had made arrangements to take me to Las Vegas for a few days....we stayed on the strip at the beautiful Aria Resort & Casino...and I didn't have to take care of work obligations, cooking, cleaning, the yard, or dogs for several days. We rented a car, so we could go out and do some exploring - the lights of Las Vegas are wonderful, but there are so many beautiful things to see in the area...

We arrived on Monday afternoon - enjoyed a leisurely lunch - explored some of the resorts/casinos on Las Vegas Blvd. - including the Bellagio (it's not a trip to Las Vegas without visiting the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens)...and we had a light dinner and cocktails at Javier's.

Our hotel room with a view at Aria...

 Fiori di Como chandelier by glass sculptor Dale Chihuly - Bellagio Hotel Lobby

Summer Garden Party Exhibit at the Bellagio Hotel Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

Summer Garden Party Exhibit at the Bellagio Hotel Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

Summer Garden Party Exhibit at the Bellagio Hotel Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

Summer Garden Party Exhibit at the Bellagio Hotel Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

Javier's in the Aria Hotel - Tequila Tree (my new favorite thing!) - I enjoyed
several AMAZING hand-shaken jalapeno margaritas during our stay...

Tuesday, we traveled to Grand Canyon National Park and although it rained off and on for most of the trip - we really enjoyed the day! It was quite a bit of driving, but we felt it was completely worth it....especially since my husband had never seen the Grand Canyon before. We went to the south rim...and spent almost a full day exploring this beautiful National Park. We got in quite a bit of walking on several of the trails...including one that follows the rim of the canyon. We saw elk, mule deer, and quite a bit of wildlife...including (you guessed it) a squirrel! Then made a stop at In-N-Out Burger (another first for my husband) for a quick bite to eat on the way back to the city.

Wednesday, we explored some more hotel/casinos in the early morning, met Travis's cousin for a late breakfast/early lunch, then made our way to Red Rock Canyon for more amazing Nevada scenery, hiking, and walking. Afterwards, we made the drive to Mt. Charleston Lodge (on of my favorite places on the planet). We took the more scenic (longer) drive to the top of Mt. Charleston, then enjoyed a delicious dinner outside on the deck at the lodge - the view is spectacular...and hummingbirds were buzzing is a magical place and a "must visit" every time we are in the area. Afterwards, we drove back to Las Vegas, where my husband played in a poker tournament (he won!) and I did some exploring/walking on my own...

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon

The deck from Mt. Charleston Lodge - view from my seat...

The view from Mt. Charleston Lodge...

The view from Mt. Charleston Lodge...

Thursday, we decided to make the drive to Death Valley National Park - another all day excursion, but worth the drive. It was a balmy 115 degrees (better than a humid 90 degree day in Iowa), but we still did some walking/hiking and had fun visiting quite a few of the scenic stops. Once returning to Las Vegas, we enjoyed a quiet dinner and did a little bit of gambling, before it was time to rest up for our very early morning flight.

Death Valley - Zabriske Point

Death Valley - Zabriske Point

Travis exploring Death Valley -  Devil's Golf Course

Death Valley -  Devil's Golf Course

Badwater Pool (yes, water in Death Valley!)

Death Valley - Badwater Basin - 282 feet below sea level...

Yes, we crammed in as much as we could in such a short amount of time...but I wanted to see as much as possible...especially since it may be years before we can take another vacation. I hope you enjoyed my photo journey of the Las Vegas, NV was an inspiring trip...